On Jan. 29, the Board of Supervisors embarked on significant discussions to make potentially historic changes to the county Conservation Regulations. Given that the Board of Supervisors is poised to make such notable changes, we feel it is imperative that common sense and reason begin to become integral in this process.
Since their inception in 1991, the Conservation Regulations have ensured an unparalleled method of environmental safeguards that have protected our rural landscape and balanced the desires for both environmental and agricultural sustainability. As farmers and ranchers, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and agree that protecting the environment is one of our highest priorities. Many of our members are multigenerational families who would not have a farm or ranch to pass on to the next generation if we were not environmentally conscious.
Napa County has the most regulated agricultural practices in California. The evidence shows that our current Conservation Regulations are working, despite unproven claims to the contrary. The Baseline Data Report (BDR) and County GIS analysis indicates an annual loss of 0.1 percent of forest from 2005 to 2017, with the BDR showing a total retention of 204,960 acres of oak/conifer forest.
In response, the Board of Supervisors is discussing an ordinance to increase existing regulations which are already demonstrated to be working. For example, the Board has discussed increasing the percentage of tree cover retained on every parcel in the county and increasing existing tree mitigation requirements. This is an extreme response and dilution of private property rights for a fraction of a percent of annual tree loss.
The Conservation Regulations have been successful and effective at protecting our environment, including water quality and quantity. There are many layers to our Conservation Regulations. While each layer may seem insignificant to some, it is the layers together that form the strict environmental protections we have today. It is critical that any changes made to the Conservation Regulations be based on science and a clear understanding about how our Conservation Regulations actually work, rather than undue political pressure as the catalyst for change.
The Napa County Farm Bureau has placed a high policy priority on these discussions and development of this ordinance. We will continue to advocate for sound public policy and seriously push back on policy recommendations that lack foundation. This issue is one of the core reasons for our mission to protect agriculture and natural resources for current and future generations of farmers in Napa County. We invite you to become informed with this process and let your voice be heard.
Napa County Farm Bureau